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Archive for June, 2013

Three Arrows Around a Balloon – It’s the Little Things That Make a Difference

It had been over 30 years since I shot target with a bow and arrow. With my family recently, I took a formal lesson at a private archery club in our community. The instructors were very knowledgeable and expert archery coaches. The most rewarding part of the day was spending time with my family. However, the experience reminded me of how focus, controlled breathing, repetition, and relaxed physical qualities lead to success.

After approximately 45 minutes, each family member was grouping arrows into small areas of the target. As a beginner, it was interesting to see how little technical skills made a big difference in the final resting place of an arrow. In archery, it’s the little things that make a difference. Have you noticed that “little things” can make a difference in the success of your personal and professional life?

At the end of the archery lesson, just for fun, our archery coaches placed a balloon in the center of our target. My first arrow was high and left. My second arrow was high and right. My next arrow was low and left. Each of the arrows was no more than 1/2″ from the balloon. On my third shot, my coach commented that my left hand was tight and not relaxed. When I relaxed, I finally hit the target.

In professional and personal activities, when we miss our target, it would be wise to look at the fundamentals which lead to success and make necessary adjustments.

What should I do if…?

For classroom teachers, transitions can mean the difference between keeping students engaged or losing the focus of the lesson. Master teachers make it look effortless. They know the importance of connecting one activity to another.  Transitions may look different, but the best teachers use transitions to get results.

During our advanced training seminar (June 13, 2013), several students asked questions which summarized communicated, “What happens if …?”  The answer was simplistic but important. Students must learn how to transition. When an attacker knows a counter or instinctively escapes a martial arts technique, a well-trained martial artist smoothly transitions to the next technique. The very best martial artists don’t think about the next move – it just happens because of hours and hours of training. Just like the master classroom teacher, they make transitioning from one movement to another look effortless but get results.

There are endless “what if’s.” “What if’s” are in our martial arts training and in the real world. We never know what is coming next. Experience and an understanding that transitions are fundamental principles of life will help move you to the next life activity. Be like a master classroom teacher or martial artist. Prepare for the transitions; change is coming. Stay calm, stay positive, and link experiences to the next life activity.

No! You’re Not Taking My Car!

When you are out in public, what is your level of alertness? Are you the type of person who scans the parking lot? Do you go for a run without a headset and music loudly playing? Do you walk down the street with your head up scanning the people around you? Criminals look for weak and easy targets!

Mr. Keith Rudy, a red belt at our academy, recently demonstrated the importance of being aware of surroundings. While leaving a store and walking to his vehicle, he noticed a man walking towards his vehicle. Mr. Rudy probably surprised the man who might have been looking for an easy theft. Criminals love to find open car doors so they can help themselves to whatever is in the car. This is all speculation – no matter what, the man had bad intentions in mind.

Seeing Mr. Rudy, the man probably had to readjust his plan, so he communicated to Mr. Rudy that he was going to take Mr. Rudy’s car. In this type of situation, can you imagine the stress which could easily take over your body and mind? In most cases, victims talk about their complete fixation with the problem. Tunnel vision takes over.

Mr. Rudy did not fall into a state of tunnel vision. He even noticed another vehicle coming in his direction. The man appeared to have a partner.

There are no absolutes in how to defend yourself. Sometimes it’s appropriate to run away from danger.

Mr. Rudy’s alertness helped him assess the situation. He prepared by taking a fighting stance and communicated very forcefully that no one was going to take his car. In no way did he look like an easy victim. He was not perceived as an easy target. In fact, I’m certain the man considered his own safety as an issue. He ran as fast as he could away from Mr. Rudy.

I appreciate Mr. Rudy allowing us to share his “real world” situation. It was clear that his awareness in the parking lot gave him options. By scanning the parking lot, he was not taken by surprise. He also did not freeze and only see one person. He was able to stay calm and notice that the man on foot had a partner. Finally, he made a decision. He decided to communicate firmly by voice and physical posture that he was not going to be a victim.

Stay alert! Never look like a victim.

Little Acts of Honesty

When charged too little at a store, what do you do?

One of our martial arts students was purchasing four subs.  She noticed that the charge was for three subs.  She pointed the mistake out to the cashier.  This was a simple example of integrity.

Little acts of honesty can tell you much about a person.

Recognize and Apply the Strategies Which Help You Learn.

Patterns are everywhere around us. We start learning about patterns early in life. Children play and build with blocks and other objects. They put things together to produce creative works of art. Parents acknowledge enthusiastically that the structures are “works of art.”

Later in life we learn complex systems by utilizing patterns. Scientists understand that symmetry in molecules and patterns in space affect the infrared spectrum. Stock traders are constantly watching patterns in order to make purchasing or selling decisions. Students learn patterns in algebra in order to transition to calculus.

Some people learn by visualizing patterns. While teaching a new form (series of martial arts movements and techniques), Sophie, one of our youth, raised her hand and asked a question, “What is the pattern?” She has awareness that she learns by organizing movements logically through pattern structures.

Understanding your personal learning style, which might include pattern awareness, provides a learning advantage. Who wouldn’t want a learning edge?  Awareness of the principles of patterns has applications inside the martial arts training facility and in the “real world.” Recognize and apply the strategies which help you learn.

Recent Classroom Discussions –”It builds character!”

During recent martial arts training sessions, two adult students, Rich and J.R., spoke of “character building.” They referred to how the training “builds character.” One was challenged by a new tumbling activity. The other referred to physical activity and stresses to the body which accompany martial arts training.

Even the most gifted athletes encounter movements that are not natural, require practice, and cause reasonable strain on the body. Developing new skills requires self-discipline. For people who lack or have not developed self-discipline, the stresses and strains may be the end. Many give up. Look at the health club industry. People enroll and after a few workouts never come back.

Overcoming martial arts challenges helps us overcome challenges in the real world. Learning how to overcome a challenge is as important to our growth as experiencing success. Continuous improvement should be a way of life. The student learning the new tumbling has been experiencing technique problems but will succeed in learning the technique. He continues to improve, because he has the needed self-discipline. He was correct. The technique challenge is a character building experience.

You cannot fake 20 push-ups. You have to put in the time and train your body for 20 push-ups.  Martial arts students at our school are taught the importance of rigorous training. We don’t want students leaving injured, but overcoming fatigue and soreness are normal outcomes of physical activity. Self-discipline is required. When we overcome the pain, fatigue and hard training, we are one step closer in achieving personal goals. Worthwhile accomplishments come from finding ways over, around, or under barriers standing in the way of our goals.

Master Instructor Arthur Y. S. Lee, a martial arts lead instructor in San Francisco, said, “The greatest of all achievements is to master yourself.” Self-discipline is critical to the process of mastering yourself. Knowing how to improve in the dojang (training facility) and outside in the real world are life skills we consider important. They build character!

I offer my sincere thanks to Rich and J.R. for sharing their perspective about character building.

Respectfully,

Chad C. Carmack, Ed. D.

Delaware Hapkido Goal: Self-Discipline

Courage to Take Action

When is it time to step in? Why don’t people do the right thing – the courageous thing – more often?

Jack, one of our youth martial arts students, demonstrated courage. In his school cafeteria, he noticed a student sitting alone. The “popular” kids noticed the loaner. Several of those students began to make fun of the young man.

When this type of bad behavior starts, usually there are followers who begin to join in and neutral people who do nothing.  Also, occasionally, there are courageous people who take action in a positive way. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen as often as we would like. Jack showed courage. He made the decision to get out of his seat and joined the student who was alone. He sat next to him.

Immediately, the “popular” kids saw this as another opportunity to become even more “popular.” They began to make fun of Jack with negative verbal comments. Jack understands that he can make a choice. He chose to ignore the comments which sent a message to all observers – I’m not going to idly watch this situation.

When I heard the story, I was very proud of Jack. It takes courage to do what’s right. He did not freeze and become one of the neutral observers doing nothing. He knew that the behavior of the harassing students was unacceptable and could not just watch.

Great job Jack! You demonstrated courage!

Find ways to take action and help others in an appropriate way. Do what it takes to make things better.

Chad C. Carmack, Ed. D.

Delaware Hapkido Goal: Self-Identity (awareness that you have a unique identity)

Encouragement

At the end of our last class, one of our new students was struggling with a line drill called shrimping. I noticed three things happening. First, the new student demonstrated to the other 20 students that he was not going to quit. Even though he was tired and challenged with a new movement, giving up was not an option in his mind. Secondly, one of the instructors stayed with him the entire time. Side-by-side she encouraged and coached. The thought of moving forward and finishing the drill – leaving our new student – never entered her mind. Finally, seeing what was happening, the other students began to clap and cheer for the efforts of the new student. All of this happened without instructions from the leaders in class.

The best martial artists take these types of experiences into the real world.

Chad C. Carmack, Ed. D.

Accidents happen!  We can choose how to respond to those accidents.

Delaware Hapkido Goal: Self-Identity (awareness that you have a unique identity)

Last week a novice driver ran over our mailbox. The mailbox had endured many strikes over the last 11 years, but it always withstood physical attacks.

Several years ago another young driver bounced off of one of our cars and slammed into the mailbox. After the accident, with a chain attached to one of our vehicles, we were able to straighten the metal mailbox pole – it looked fairly straight and worked perfectly again. Also, I am certain that our metal mailbox withstood many vandalism strikes, since every mailbox in our neighborhood has been visibly attacked and severely damaged.

This most recent accident completely destroyed our, previously considered indestructible, mailbox. The car bent the metal pole at a 90° angle and ruptured the metal mailbox door – twisting it in an awkward position. Concrete which was two feet below the surface once secured the metal pole. Large chunks of concrete slab were propelled like shrapnel up to 25 yards from the impact point. Although we didn’t get a chance to see the car damage, our neighbor communicated that the collision made a horrendous sound and the vehicle suffered much damage to the front end.

Mrs. Penny Carmack, DE Hapkido black belt and owner of the mailbox, responded immediately with the question, “Is the driver okay?” Her response could have been in anger or frustration since we now have to replace the mailbox. Instead, she was concerned with the safety and well-being of the driver, who was not injured.

Martial arts train which includes meditation and breathing exercises, can instill in a person a sense of calm, awareness, and a clear perspective. Mrs. Carmack demonstrated the ability to empathize, control emotions, and consider someone else prior to considering minor property damage. Her response was commendable.

Chad C. Carmack, Ed. D.

http://www.firststatemartialarts.info

Chad Carmack

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